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Re: G3 Beige Tower install with BootX - help

Hello all,

I have been working with Debian for quite a few years now and using powermac G3 machines with extra network cards in them as routers and firewalls, etc. These machines were set up back in the days of Woody and have been kept uptodate with security updates, but otherwise pretty much left untouched. Due to the issues around the firmware in these machines and because it was useful, I always set them up to boot initially into mac OS9 then use BootX to hand over the Debian. This worked a treat.

However, I thought it would be good come up to date by installing Etch instead.

I'll bring this up to Lenny.  [Rick]

I used a free machine that was not actually in use and ran the install using the current network install ISO.

I used the Lenny Beta2 "businesscard" install disk.

Things have changed since the days of woody and it now seems that floppy images (boot image and root image) are no longer used. Hence, I copied the initrd.gz file over to the mac HD and set that as the ram disk for the install. I also copied across the linux kernel and put that into the kernels folder in the system folder.

In a little more detail: I drag-n-dropped the "vmlinux" and "initrd.gz" files from the Debian install CD (they are in the "install/powerpc" directory) into the MacOS9 "System Folder:Linux Kernels" folder. Then I chose those two as the "Kernel" and "use specified RAM disk" options in BootX.

I set the "More kernel arguments" box to "DEBCONF_PRIORITY=low" (without the quotes) to specify that I wanted to run the installer in "expert" mode, so I could do a couple of non- default tricks needed by OldWorld Macs using BootX.

You may or may not want to check the "No video driver" checkbox, depending on your video hardware. This is the equivalent of the "video=ofonly" in yaboot. You'll have to experiment to find out which option works for you.

You may (probably will) want to change the "Ramdisk size" option to a larger number. I use 32768. The default is 8192.

Using that allows me to boot into the installer

where I answered the questions in the usual way, until I got to the step "Load Installer Components from CD". There I chose the option to install "hfs-modules": HFS filesystem support. We'll need them later on when we copy the new customized kernel and initrd to the MacOS9 partition. This is the first "non-default trick" for BootX installation, for which we need to be in "expert mode". There will be another occasion later.

and using the installer

partitioner in the installer

I deleted the previous linux partition (hda7) and swap (hda8) and made new ones.

I used the "manual partitioning" option and created "root" and "swap" partitions. Note that these two partitions should have single digit numbers. Otherwise, during the reboot following the installation, the Linux boot process will hang "waiting for the root partition". I suspect this is a bug somewhere in the code that decodes the kernel arguments. Putting this restriction another way, the root and swap partitions should each be chosen from hda7, hda8, or hda9 (assuming your MacOS9 partition is hda6, as it usually will be.) If either of them are hda10 or greater, you'll have problems later. You can use two-digit partition numbers for things like "/home" and "/usr", it's just the root that is restricted.

The "guided partitioning" will try to create an ext2 "boot" partition. This is necessary for the quik bootloader, but completely *un*necessary for BootX. In fact, it's actually undesirable because I've recently discovered that the default size (8 MB) for the "boot" partition is too small -- kernel and initrd have grown since quik was written. So including /boot as just a directory in the root partition allows it to have arbitrarily large contents.

While you're there in the partitioner, make a note of the partition numbers of your MacOS9 and root partitions. You'll want them later.

Then installed the base system, etc,etc all the way through to where it runs tasksel. I just leave that at the basic system for now.

Following on some more, finally we get to the point of

having finished "Select and install software" where the next thing it would want to do is "Install quik on a hard disk". You do *not* want to install quik. You've got MacOS9 and BootX to do that job. So skip over that line and continue with "Continue without boot loader". It will tell you that you need to use the vmlinux from the "boot" partition and set the kernel parameter "root=" to the root partition that you just installed into. Write down the root partition number (if you didn't do so during the partitioning step) you'll need it later.

At this point you should switch to a different console (hit the "alt" and "F2" keys) and do the following magical stuff:

mount -v -t hfsplus /dev/hda6 /mnt
# Instead of hda6 you should use the partition where your own MacOS9 is located. # the mount command automatically loads the hfsplus module we retrieved earlier.
cp /target/boot/vmlinux /mnt/System\ Folder/Linux\ Kernels/
cp /target/boot/initrd.img /mnt/System\ Folder/Linux\ Kernels/
umount -v /mnt

This will put your new customized kernel and initrd where BootX can find it later.

Now you can return to console 1 (the installer) by hitting the "alt" and "F2" keys. and run the "Finish the installation" step.

[I did not need to do the following -- Rick]

trying to install Quik (which I don't need) and it gives an error anyway, since I have selected ext3 file system that is not supported in quik. I therefore say to carry on without a boot loader.

[End of "I didn't do this" -- Rick]

Everything goes fine all the way to rebooting into the new system. However, when I do that, OS9 will not boot up. I just get the flashing disk symbol with a question mark on it. Popping the OS9 CD and booting off that and then running disk setup shows me that the HD has somehow been altered so it is not recognised properly as a mac HD. During the partitioning step, I did not alter anything other than hda7 and 8.

I get the same thing.  I don't know why.

I have found that I can reinstall the apple hard disk driver onto the disk and this then gets OS9 up and working.

I do this with the "Drive Setup" program in the "Utilities" folder of the MacOS9 install CD. I hi-lite the disk, and choose "Update Driver" from the "Functions" menu. Then I reboot and MacOS9 comes up fine. (Do *NOT* initialize the disk, incase you were tempted to try that. You would wipe out all your hard work up to now.)

Once MacOS9 boots and displays the BootX dialog box, you can edit its options to use the customized vmlinux and initrd.img files you copied into the "System Folder:Linux Kernels" folder, and set the kernel parameter to "root=/dev/hda7", where, instead of hda7 you use the root partition number that you wrote down a while ago. You should then click the button to "save to prefs" to remember these new parameters.

When you then click the "Linux" button, Debian will boot for you.

[I don't have the problem described below -- Rick]
However, I cannot then boot into Debian, since the boot process gets a little way in and then I get a kernel panic at the point where it tries to mount the file system (error about no file system at /dev/hda7).

I have done this several times now and the same thing happens every time. The install goes fine but then I end up with a completely unusable machine.

I am wondering if I am going about the install process wrongly (ie using the initrd.gz file). I can't find anything really useful in the install manual or using Google. I will probably end up looking really stupid when someone points out an obvious mistake I have made, but I can live with that.

If anyone has got etch installed on the beige g3 (its a 266 mhz machine, but I can't tell you the firmware version, etc. Would need to find out how to get at this) and can share their expertise, it would be most appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

[End of "I don't have this problem -- RIck]


So, here is the way I got it to work....

First off, I have to thank Rick for a very helpful discussion about this. Without his help, I would not have been able to get this baby working!

I have OS9.2 on a circa 500 meg HFS+ partition, leaving the rest for debian (I will add here something I didn't mention in the original post - don't format this space using the OS9 CD, just leave it as "free space"). I use BootX as a boot loader. I used the netinstall CD for Etch.

First boot into OS9 with the Etch CD in the CD drive. Copy the vmlinux kernel from the CD install directory and put it into the kernels folder in the system folder. Copy the initrd.gz image to the BootX folder. Select the BootX application and tell it to use the vmlinux kernel and set the RAM disk to initrd.gz image. In the additional kernel arguments box, type "DEBCONF_PRIORITY=low" (no quotes). Boot into linux.

The installer will start. Go through this answering questions. When you get to the partitioning section, Partman will run. You should choose "manual" as your partitioning method. Select the free space and make a linux partition with Ext3 format and choose to mount "/" on it. On my machine this then becomes /dev/hda7/. Also make a swap partition (/dev/hda8). The sizes of these will depend on your HD size. You can also obviously choose to split up your file system so that not everything is under the root (/). I also named my /dev/ hda7/ as "debian". Probably makes no difference, but I did notice that the HFS+ partition (/dev/hda6) was called "untitled" as was / dev/hda7/ and did not think this a good idea.

Once you are happy with how the partitions look, write out the partition table. This will destroy the apple driver partition, but don't worry, you can recover from this providing you have your OS9 CD. More of this later...

Continue with the installation and install the base system and whatever else you want.

Despite being in the "expert" install mode, after install of the base system, the installer went straight into trying to install quik as the boot loader without giving me the option to avoid this. However, since quik only works with ext2 file systems, it bombed out with an error and allowed me to continue. I go all the way through to the point where it says the install is finished and wants me to remove the install CD and then select reboot. We stop at this point and swap to a new console (alt right arrow).

In here we can access the newly installed file system *and* the mac HFS+ partition. At the prompt, type "cd /" to make sure you are in the root of the file system. On my system, there was a folder at the root called "mnt" that contained nothing. I therefore typed in:

mount -t hfsplus /dev/hda6 /mnt

(note: I had put "/dev/hda7" here in the first post regarding getting Etch installed. hda7 on my system is actually the linux root partition. When deciding on which partition to mount here, the partitioning step will help, since partman lists the partition numbers).

This mounted the mac HFS+ partition under "mnt". You could use another directory, since mount just takes over the directory and then will give it back when you "umount", but I prefer to use an empty directory just in case.

Now you can cd to mnt and you should see your mac HD.

cd to /target/boot/ and cp whatever is symlinked to vmlinux and initrd (do a "ls -l" on the directory to see the details) over the mac HD.

Now "umount /mnt", change back into the installer console (alt left arrow) and remove the netinstall CD from the drive. Pop in your OS9 CD, because you will need it.

Reboot by selecting that option in the installer.

Your machine will boot into the OS9 installer (even without you holding down the "C" key). If you get a flashing disk symbol with a question mark in it, you have not got your OS9 CD in the drive. Remember that the partitioning has trashed the mac hard disk driver partition so your mac does not know what to do.

Once the OS9 installer disk has booted and you are at the window where you can choose to install OS9, go to the utilities folder and select drive setup. Once this has found the drives on your machine, select the one at the top (on mine it said "not mounted") and then select from the drop down menu at the top of the screen to "update apple hard disk driver". Once you do this, you get a message saying you need to reboot. Do this.

Now we can get back into OS9 on the hard drive.

Once in OS9, move the vmlinux kernel you copied above into the kernel images folder in your system folder. Put the initrd image anywhere you want.

Select the BootX application.

Select the linux kernel you just moved. Select "use specified ram disk" and choose the initrd image you copied above. Now in the additional kernel arguments box, enter "root=/dev/hda7" (without the quotes). Obviously your root file system might not be hda7, so change that appropriately. Save these settings to the defaults. You may want/have to enter other kernel arguments (eg for video), but I did not have to.

Now boot into linux.

BootX should hand over to linux and your new install will boot up. At least it did for me ;-)

If you upgrade to a new kernel / initrd image, you will need to mount the HFS+ drive and copy these over to it so that you can specify these in the BootX app.

Hope this has been of some use to someone.

Best of luck,



Dr. N.R. Helps
Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit
College of Life Sciences
University of Dundee

t: 44 (0)1382 384745 (office)
t: 44 (0)1382 388019 (lab)
f: 44 (0)1382 388729
e: n.r.helps@dundee.ac.uk
w: http://www.dnaseq.co.uk/
w: http://www.ppu.mrc.ac.uk


Stephen Allen <sda2@sdf.lonestar.org> 09/07/08 6:18 PM >>>
On Sun, Sep 07, 2008 at 10:42:36AM +0300, risto.suominen@gmail.com wrote:
2008/9/7, Stephen Allen <sda2@sdf.lonestar.org>:

The install is where I had the issue(s), of going through the steps and
hanging when it came to installing
the quik bootloader. I don't understand why it's install quick as I thought
that BootX would be used.

You should try to skip the quik installation. The advantage of using
BootX is that if you use quik and it fails to boot you have no backup,
with BootX you can always get into OS 9. You don't need -  and cannot
have -  both: the OldWorld ROM always selects the first bootable
partition. Or - in theory - you could have quik in first partition and OS 9 in second and use quik to boot OS 9, but I don't see any point in

OK managed to skip the Quik installation. (I'll have to write up a SxS
mentioning how to do this)

I went through several iterations of disk partioning schemes without any
successful install. One message I
got several times was that Quik has to be on the first partition. The MacOS
has a small partition at the
first that doesn't delete for me, so I'm kind of stuck there.

You should keep the Mac OS partition. Get into another virtual
terminal (Ctrl- Alt- F2), mount the Mac OS partition (the path is either
/dev/hda... or /dev/bus/ide/disk.../part..., or similar):

OK kept the MacOS partition(s). There are 7 of em put there by the MacOS 9
disk utility (6 small ones).

I have one disk and it was labeled hdb when partioning. So that would be
'mount - t hfs (It's hfs)/dev/hdb7 (MacOS was installed on the 7th

There are a bunch of small Apple/MacOS partitions before this. But I assume since you mentioned system folder that it's has to go on the larger MacOS
partition where the Mac system folder is; correct ?

mount - t hfs /dev/... /mnt

(or hfsplus), and copy the new initrd into it:

cp - p /target/boot/initrd.gz '/mnt/System Folder'

There didn't appear to be an 'initrd.gz' but there was an 'initrd'. Same thing right ? On /mnt I didn't have a directory 'System Folder', however mount didn't through any complaints when mounting hdb7, so I assume that
was OK.

At this point you should have the kernel package installed on target

Unfortunately it didn't boot. I'm getting close though. Any ideas ?


-- Regards,
S.D.Allen -  Toronto

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